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Waiting for the Axe to Fall
Sundari: Hello, Deirdra, Yes, indeed travelling is hard on the body! We are very happy in our new home and are looking forward to the deal being concluded so that we can set up our office and get ShiningWorld headquarters organised! Isvara took us right to the place that is right for us; it is high up a mountain pass, secluded, totally quiet and sattvic, with the most stunning views. It is has two houses on it so we can use it to accommodate around eight, maybe ten people, for smallish seminars. For the bigger ones there is a great yoga centre nearby, which is beautiful, offers great vegetarian food and so reasonable it competes with India, so we will hold bigger seminars there. We had the option of buying a huge place with four dwellings, but we really don’t want to manage that much real estate and our needs are so simple we are happy with very little. We also have no possessions to speak of, so a small place is good.
I have replied to your very good points below.
Deirdra: I understand what you mean about Isvara giving the jiva vasanas for a reason. I can see so clearly how the combination of vasanas that colored my psyche and body led me to seek moksa (though most of the time I hardly knew what I was doing!).
Sundari: Yes, with not much effort, especially if one has assimilated the meaning of one’s life through self knowledge, it is easy to see the path the jiva has been led on and which has propelled it towards moksa, with the inevitable suffering involved along the way. It is impossible to escape this, as samsara by its very nature is guaranteed and engineered to cause suffering. The point here is to realise that it is the self that is behind the unconscious or conscious drive for freedom, not the jiva. The jiva, being inert, of course does not know what it is doing; it is really the self under the spell of ignorance, just following the nature given it by Isvara. Because it is a dim reflection, it is blindly bumbling along until it has the good grace to stumble upon the path that has been beneath its feet all the time: Vedanta.
Deirdra: I am grateful for that despite all the attending pain and suffering. I didn’t expect to find endless happiness with enlightenment, since Ram was so clear on that, but… I’ve had enough of sadness and angst! There is the peace of knowing I am the self and nothing can touch that, but the jiva is like a sad, broken record. I think it’s going to be a while before those vasanas finally wind down.
Sundari: Gratitude for the path that leads us to moksa is a prerequisite for moksa, as there is no such thing as a victim unless you still take yourself to be a person. Who is it that “did not expect to find endless happiness with enlightenment”? Indeed if one thinks that enlightenment is experiential and you are speaking here as Deirdra, then you would have been well served not to have had any expectations for endless happiness, because it would definitely not be endless happiness or enlightenment. Enlightened or not, Deirdra has her nature, which remains unchanged, and she has the karma from her life as a jiva, if she takes herself to be the jiva. Isvara does not care if you are enlightened or not, and the gunas will be there regardless. Hence our emphasis on acknowledging how the gunas operate generally, and specifically in Deirdra’s story. This is the tough part, making the distinction between self and not-self in the apparent reality. To repeat here again, it will not work to impose satya on mithya, one has to understand what it means to be the self in the apparent reality. In other words, face the apparent nature and adjust accordingly through self-knowledge if peace of mind is what is desired. It will not work any other way.
You say, “I’ve had enough of sadness and angst! There is the peace of knowing I am the self and nothing can touch that, but the jiva is like a sad, broken record. I think it’s going to be a while before those vasanas finally wind down.” Obviously you have some difficult life karma that is still unwinding and this is not easy to endure. Self-knowledge makes a world of difference in how you go through this though. In being able to objectify what is happening and to seeing it from the perspective of the self, you will see that endless happiness is not a doing and does not have anything to do with what is happening or not happening.
So it is totally possible, and indeed it is imminently indicative of enlightenment, to experience endless happiness as the self regardless of what the jiva is experiencing. By religiously sticking to karma yoga, continuing your jnana yoga and thus bhakti yoga, the suffering of whatever kind will end of its own accord. Other than making the correct lifestyle adjustments and applying the yogas to the mind, there is nothing you can do about it. Just accept that this is the way it is for the jiva right now, it has nothing to do with who you are; the suffering is an object known to you and is therefore temporary.
Without going into your circumstances, it is clear that you have suffered and still are suffering a great deal. It is not relevant to our discussions and not necessary for you to do so but should you wish to share more of your life story, I would be happy to listen and contribute what I can. Do not feel pressured to do so though, as I know that you have the self-knowledge that you need to get through it with dispassion and fortitude. Sometimes it helps to talk about things, sometimes not. You have an understanding and dispassionate ear with both Ramji and me, should you need it.
Deirdra: I don’t know if I’m being true to the Sanskrit, but when I read the verse, “He who has eradicated ignorance totally and in whom every form of conditioning has ceased is a liberated sage,” I understood it as follows: the eradication of ignorance produces the “liberated” aspect, while the lack of conditioning (which I understand as lack of binding vasanas – since how can there truly be conditioning if the jiva is free to act on a vasana or not?) produces the “sage” aspect.
Sundari: This is correct, the eradication of ignorance does produce the liberation – from the jiva and therefore the “sage aspect” applies. It is not an “aspect” though. Liberation means that you have assimilated and “embodied” self-knowledge totally. However, the jiva remains the jiva even though it is known to be not-self; it will still have its nature and therefore its conditioning, or svadharma, which belongs to Isvara, not to the jiva. We love our jivas and do not try to change them, regarding them with curiosity and enjoyment. Obviously, being free of them we naturally always follow dharma because we wish to enjoy peace of mind and remain free of them. This is endless happiness. It may not follow that the jiva is always happy, although once the prarabdha karma has played itself out, there is nothing to stop it from being so.
Nonetheless, as the self you are the essence of happiness because nothing that happens or does not happen in samsara is real or personal. Limitless bliss or endless happiness simply means this: as the self, nothing that happens or does not happen modifies you.
It sounds like you are saying that Deirdra is still being modified by rajas/tamas (in other words, sadness and angst). Is this really the truth about you? Once you know who you are and what Isvara is – and you do – it is self-evident how to manage the gunas in order to continue experiencing peace of mind, which is your nature, i.e. endless happiness.
This statement of yours is confusing: “…since how can there truly be conditioning if the jiva is free to act on a vasana or not?” It is not the jiva that acts on anything. Freedom from the jiva means that you, the self, are no longer under the spell of ignorance, so no longer identified with the jiva. The jiva still appears to act and have an independent nature or conditioning but it is known to be just a play of the gunas, or Isvara srsti, the dharma field. It is impersonal. The conditioning is always there because Isvara is always there and remains there, enlightened or not. Being free means that you are the knowledge, you no longer have to apply it and therefore live the truth that the dharma field is not under your control, enlightened or not, even though you know that you are beyond Isvara, or the dharma field.
As the jiva never leaves the apparent reality, it has to live according to the laws in the dharma field. And you know that very well that that is all perfect the way it is. This is why it is said that moksa is for the jiva who has an apparent existence in the apparent reality, not for the self, who is always free of both.
As for “He who has eradicated ignorance totally and in whom every form of conditioning has ceased…” this is the vasana kshaya theory. This is theory holds that moksa entails eradicating every single vasana. Even if this were possible (and it is not), it is not desirable, because some vasanas are very helpful, like having a vasana for self-inquiry!
I will forward you something very interesting with regards to the subjective/objective reality, as laid out by Dayananda, in the Bhagavad Gita, put together by a friend of ours called Bede.
Deirdra: So with your example of Suddhananda and others like him, he may be liberated but he is lacking in the wisdom that results from actualization. It’s hard to call a jiva wise who is at the behest of his vasanas even if he knows he is the self. Any comments?
Sundari: Correct. There is no escaping Isvara, so if the conditioning is not acknowledged for what it is through the application of self-knowledge and the appropriate adjustments made in the light of self-knowledge, one cannot claim to be self-actualised or wise.
Deirdra: I am grateful for the chance to put my money to good use and hope I can be of service in the future. I would like to see you as well when you come to the US, though I don’t think I can attend all of Ram’s sessions this time due to other commitments that can’t be avoided.
~ With much love, Deirdra
Sundari: Thank you, Deirdra, and we are always here for you should you need us. We would love to see you in the States. Let me have your cell number closer to the time, and as soon as we are there and settled in we can make a plan to see each other.
~ With much love to you too, Sundari